Ben Swift is the youngest rider in this year’s Tour de France. The 23-year-old from Dinnington, who rides for Team Sky, gives an insight into his dream Tour in his exclusive column in the Sheffield Telegraph.
Crazy and insane ... but what an amazing experience!
I’m really enjoying my first Tour de France. I knew it was going to be big but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as manic.
You have the best 200 cyclists in the best form of their year and trying to be at the front, which just makes for crazy racing and quite a few crashes.
At first I was in awe of it all and it took me a while to get into the rhythm. But it’s great and I’m loving it.
The noise is incredible. The crowd on the first day was like nothing I have seen before and I was told that there was not as many as normal! What was very nice to see though was how many British flags were flying out there. That really brings it home to you.
No one in the peloton gives an inch so it’s far harder than a normal race to move through the field.
Carnage was the one word that sprang to mind after the opening day which took place from the dramatic backdrop of the Passage du Gois tidal causeway on the Atlantic coast of France.
Everything seemed to be going to plan until a fan strayed too close to the road and caused a pile up. I don’t think I have seen that many crashes in one stage before. I was literally one of the last people to get through ... it was like a tidal wave of riders falling towards me but thankfully I just survived.
There was a further crash two kilometres from the finish line and I ended up getting hurtled over the top of it but luckily landed on my feet, so no damage done.
The Team Time Trial was a pretty amazing experience. I thought that as a team we rode very well but it was disappointing to come so close to winning it - Team Sky finished third - but we put some good times into a lot of good riders.
My legs were a bit sore afterwards but I’m going to have to get used to that!
We have only got two sprinters in the team and I was told that the third stage - a flat course from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon on the Loire-Brittany border - was going to be my day.
Unfortunately as we came under the 1km banner someone cut across me. It was disappointing but that’s bike racing. The good thing is there’s a lot more stages to come so I’ll hopefully get another chance.
I was 49 overall after the fourth stage but I don’t really mind where I end up on the general classification as my main focus is working on keeping Bradley Wiggins as high in the standings as possible, completing the race and picking up a stage win.
I have to be confident otherwise there’s no point in being here. The team is doing well which takes the stress off.
Here’s to the rest of the Tour.